Utah Grizzlies Game Recap: Lackluster

Coming off a 6-5 shoot out loss with Joe Cannata in net, and a 5-4 SO win with Kevin Carr in net, the Grizzlies looked to close out the Rapid City road trip with a winning record. With Kevin Davis and Josh Anderson both called up to the Eagles Utah played short-handed with just five defensemen, but J.T. Henke drew in, so the Grizzlies also dressed ten forwards for the first time in quite a while.

The game got off to a pretty good start, Utah picking up six shots to the Rush’s three in the first ten minutes or so. At 9:59, Michael Turner took a tripping call, and Utah headed off to the power play. Josh Dickinson got the only official shot on the advantage, and Cannata made a big save on Turner who came flying down the ice fresh out of the box.

Despite the shot advantage, it was the Rush who struck first, Riley Weslowski making it rain stuffed animals, as it was teddy bear toss night, as well as Guns ‘n Hoses night in Rapid City.

Cannata looked a little shaky at times through the first, but the Grizzlies continued to out-shoot the Rush, even after Turner Ottenbreit headed to the box at 14:18, then again at 17:27. Twenty seconds later, Teigan Zahn laid a big hit, Weslowski took exception, and the two dropped the gloves. With Zahn sent to the locker room and Ottenbreit in the box, the Grizzlies played with three defensemen for all but the last thirty seconds or so of the frame.

After the first, Rapid City led 1-0, out-shooting the Grizzlies 11-10.

Turner took a hooking call on Nolan De Jong at 1:05, sending Utah to an early, and ultimately futile power play. After Zahn, Weselowski, and Turner all left the box, De Jong took a slashing call, and Saquille Merasty scored on the ensuing power play.

Rapid City iced the puck twice in a row at about the seven minute mark, and Utah pressured, cycling well though picking up no shots.

Just around the half-way point, first Jake Marchment and then Matt Berry got nice looks, but Adam Carlson remained strong. The foot-speed of Cole Ully drew a slashing call at 11:34. It was, probably, their best up until that point, but once again they came up empty.

Utah drew a power play, though probably one they would have preferred to go without, as Ottenbreit went down very hard behind the Utah net and had to be helped off the ice at 15:19.

The Grizzlies looked pretty good following the power play, cycling the puck and getting a couple of looks, eventually leading to a hooking call against Weselowski. Unfortunately, Ully took a high-sticking call with forty seconds to go.

After a period that didn’t go particularly well, Utah continued to trail 2-0, shots 20-18 for the Rush.

Matt Berry came flying out of the gate off the opening face-off, and Ottenbreit returned to the ice a few shifts in. Ottenbreit took another penalty, tripping this time, at 4:25. Utah killed it off.

By the time there was only seven minutes left, Utah had tied up the shots 25-25, but still remained unable to put one past Carlson.

Ully drew another power play with just about five to go. They rang iron on the advantage but came up empty once again. The Grizzlies pulled Cannata for the extra attacker right as the power play came to an end, and the Rush scored into the empty net.

Garrett Klotz tried to goad Ottenbreit into a fight for reasons unknown with just under two minutes left, and shortly thereafter, chaos descended. Weirdly, since they were up 3-0, the Rush got a little nasty at the end of what had been largely a reasonable game. A scrum ensued with less than 20 seconds left, that resulted in Quintin Lisoway getting a roughing call, while Austin Carroll was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct.

At the final buzzer, the Rush had done an unfortunately perfect job of shutting down the most potent offense in the league for the 3-0 victory, handing the Grizzlies their first regulation loss against a Mountain Division opponent all year.

While it obviously wasn’t Utah’s best night, it certainly wasn’t their worst either. They team returns home with three of six possible points and a 13-3-3-1 record before they head back on the road to play Idaho next weekend.

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff

 

 

 

 

Utah Grizzlies: More in the Tank

In the final game of the home-stand against Indy, the lineup remained the same, though the lines themselves saw a little bit of juggling. Once again, Joe Cannata got the start

Both teams got a few shots in the first minute, and Teigan Zahn and Austin Carroll weren’t afraid to get into it early.

Richart got taken down knee-on-knee, and visions of Josh Winquist’s injury must surely have flashed through people’s minds, but fortunately, Richart was able to skate off under his own power, and returned to the ice in the midst of the resulting five minute power play. Matt Rupert was given a game misconduct in addition to the major. In the midst of the power play, Carroll pounced on a puck that rolled through Jason Pawloski and put it in the net, but the official had already blown the whistle.

The lengthy man-advantage was unable to capitalize for real, with the Grizzlies’ point men having uncharacteristic difficulties keeping the puck in the zone.

Josh Anderson laid some big hits through the game and Cannata looked much more comfortable in his net than he had in Friday’s game.

It was a game of special teams after that. Richart took exception to the Fuel around the Utah net after the whistle, and Anderson jumped in too, leading to an unsportsmanlike penalty. However, Indy followed that up by taking consecutive penalties, leading to brief stretches of four-on-four, then four-on-three before returning to a regular Grizzlies’ power play.

Nolan De Jong, who had a bit of a rough first period, took a hooking call in the final 1:18, and the period ended 0-0, shots 11-10 Indy. Fortunately, through the first twenty, Cannata looked very calm and comfortable, and at the first break the score remained 0-0.

The second period began with 42 seconds of the De Jong penalty, which Utah killed off comfortably. Matt Berry took a penalty 1:16 into the period, but Cannata continued to hold down the fort.

The penalty box parade continued, this time Radovan Bondra taking a slashing call. Utah definitely worked hard on the power play, causing Pawloski to scramble a little, but unable to put the puck past him.

Carroll was destined to get the first goal of the game after all, scoring despite being knocked down on the ice. Gage Ausmus and Brendan Harms got the assists, putting The Grizzlies up 1-0 7:37 into the second.

Utah threw the body around after that, but Harms got a boarding call at 11:55, sending the Grizzlies back to the kill. Indy had got a good cycle going, only to cough the puck up at the blue line to Caleb Herbert. The Indy defenseman struggled valiantly to keep up with Herbert, but to no avail, as the league’s leading scorer absolutely few in, and then electrified the crowd with his 13th of the year.

Indy took a slashing call at 14:40 and then Anderson and Olivier Labelle got matching minors at 18:49 and the period came to an end 2-0 Utah, shots 21-20 in their favor.

The Grizzlies looked like the better team on the very short four-on-four to start the third, but after that, both teams got their chances in.

Tim McGauley got hauled down on a breakaway at 8:20, and what should have been a penalty shot became a power play.

Unfortunately, Jake Marchment took a tripping call about half-way through, and negated the man-advantage.

Brendan Harms started a hard-working shift a few minutes past the half-way mark, which eventually led to Zahn scoring his first of the season unassisted to give the Grizzlies the 3-0 lead.

And they weren’t done. Just under a minute later, Matt Berry batted the puck past Pawloski to make it 4-0.

From then on out, Utah shut it down, and a game that began quietly most certainly did not end so as time ran out on Joe Cannata’s first shut out of the season.

“It felt nice.” said the game’s first star on his shut-out. “The last few weeks I’ve been fighting it a bit, I think as a team we played pretty solidly, and for me it makes it a lot easier, being square to pucks and seeing them, guys doing little things makes my job easier. It was nice to finish the week out like that.”

Tim Branham was a little bit more effusive on his goalie’s 30 save performance.

“He [Cannata] makes everything look easy, his rebound control is unbelievable, his playing the puck is unbelievable, he’s so calm and collected. He had a really good game yesterday, and he followed that up with an even better game. You can see why he helped Colorado to win a championship.”

“I thought we played a good game,” he continued. “Our effort, our intensity was there. Our execution, as far as offensively, wasn’t quite there, power play, that kind of thing. But that’s going to happen, our power play has been running over 30%, it’s bound to happen, have a bad day or a bad couple days, and it hurts to lose a player like Cole Ully. Hopefully he’s doing well up there tonight, and at the end of the day we have a character group, and we found a way to win.”

Ottenbreit appears to have hit his stride, having a very strong game for the second night in a row, and was a stand out on a solid blue line.

“He’s a young kid trying to find his way in pro hockey, he’s a tall kid, he’s got a long reach, skates really well for a big man, he’s tough, he’s physical, he can handle the puck, he’s just got everything, and he’s just finding his way. You’re gonna find this young D core just get better as the year goes on. Kevin Davis, what he’s doing right now is unbelievable. Josh Anderson, another young kid, when you’ve got guys, and we’re talking “veteran” players like De Jong, a second year guy, and Richy, a third year, and then you’ve got Zahner, and Moose–Ausmus, another second year guy, those guys are playing like veterans out there. It’s an unbelievable D core filled with tons of character. But Turner, he’s playing good hockey. He’s gonna be a good hockey player, that’s for sure.”

Carroll’s tenacity and the opening goal (which of course, ended up being the game winner) earned him second star, and Herbert took third with a goal and an assist.

Though Herbert had a goal in Friday’s game, he didn’t look quite as comfortably dominant as he had before his call up. That was not the case last night. He didn’t just score a dazzling goal, he did things like hesitate at the blue line waiting for his teammates to get back on-side and yet somehow retaining the puck despite the convergence the Indy players on his position. He also hounded Indy’s defensmen on the penalty kill, forcing them to make plays, and mistakes, like the one that led to the short-handed goal.

Utah’s back in action Wednesday, Friday, Saturday this coming week as well, playing all three games at home against the Allen Americans.

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard and staff.